• Group tasks govt on safe water systems to avert another pandemic

    Group tasks govt on safe water systems to avert another pandemic - nigeria newspapers online
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    By Izunna Okafor, Awka

    To mark the 2023 World Water Day (WWD), a non-government organisation, the Rural Community Development Outreach (RCDO), based in Nigeria, with membership across the rural communities in the six geo-political regions of Nigeria, has called on the Nigeria Government to pay urgent attention to the water crisis in Nigeria, which presently threatens the lives of over 78 million children and others, especially in the rural communities across country.

    In a statement signed by its National Coordinator, Engr. Ikenna Ellis-Ezenekwe and the National Secretary, Okwudili Onyeke, the group disclosed that over 78 million Nigerian children are in danger and find themselves at risk of water-related diseases, according to estimates by the United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

    According to the group, there is an existential threat looming dangerously, and which may overpower the Nigerian health care sector if nothing is urgently done.

    “Already, Nigeria is one of the ten countries that carry the heaviest burden of child mortality from diseases caused by inadequate attention to water supply, sanitation and hygiene, such as diarrhea and other diseases. One-third of the children in Nigeria do not have access to, at least, basic water at home, and two-third do not have basic sanitation services.

    “Not minding that Nigerian households, according to the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, spent over N4 trillion on water sanitary, hygiene and services annually in 2019 and 2020; the majority of the rural communities in Nigeria find themselves in lack of access to safe usable water. Many are left with no options than to use polluted and highly contaminated water streams as drinking water and for other uses.

    “As the world celebrates Water Day, it would be morally just for the Federal Government of Nigeria and the people in leadership positions to re-examine the trouble posed by continued unavailability of safe water in rural communities around the country. It is the civil right of every Nigerian, both young and old, to have access to safe water that will not cause a pandemic,” it said.

    It would be recalled that a study sponsored by UNICEF in 2021 revealed that only 6 per cent of the healthcare facilities in Nigeria have safe water facilities, while only 11 per cent of schools in the country have safe water facilities. This is as the then Federal Minister of Water Resources, Engr. Suleiman Adamu indicated that only 28 out of the 36 states of the federation have urban water utilities or State Water Agencies.

    According to the study, only 16 out of the 28 States have fully-functioning urban utilities, while 12 were partially functional. The Minister added that access to public water supply declined from 32 per cent in 1990 to less than 7 per cent in 2015.

    In Lagos State, less than 6 million, out of the over 20 million population, have access to public water, as the majority depend on private boreholes, wells and packaged table water.

    In Enugu State, only about 10,000 of the entire residents have access to potable water; while, in Abia State, there is no access to potable water.

    Similarly, in Kano, less than 40 per cent of the entire population have access to potable water; while, in Kebbi State, less than 20 per cent of the population have access to public water. UNICEF study puts the daily consumption of water by each Nigerian at nine liters per day.

    The group, in the press statement, noted that most state governments have adopted the concept of sinking water boreholes as a solution to the unavailability of safe water —a concept it also faulted as unable to address the challenge of unavailability of safe drinking water.

    “But boreholes do not address the safety problem. Government should look beyond the sinking of water boreholes as a solution to unavailability of safe drinking water. This government must conceive a plan. A real implementable plan for delivering safe drinking water to every home in Nigeria, particularly the rural communities. It should be considered as important as building roads and hospitals.

    “For the health and wellbeing of the nation, it is pertinent for better attention to be paid to safe water systems. Nigeria cannot develop without a well-thought-out plan on safe water systems,” RCDO said.

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